By Amber De La Haye, science communication consultant at Bax & Company

What if there was a simple solution to the congestion clogging up your local high street? But, what if that solution didn’t fully exist yet? Often, some of the most promising answers to society’s problems are sitting in a lab, languishing on a hard drive, or are locked away in reports. However, with the right mindset, and a procurement strategy for research and development (R&D) services, policymakers can play an important role in unlocking these solutions for public benefit. 


Innovation procurement is an important tool for local policymakers. With the solutions to some of our most pressing issues often not yet in (commercially proven) existence, the public sector needs to invest in innovative ideas still undergoing R&D. This is the key to solving crucial societal challenges in health care, energy efficiency, transport, security, environmental protection, water and waste management and construction. 


The Guide on Open Data Innovation Procurement for Municipalities has been written by Corvers and Agoria to help policymakers grapple with the long-term strategies, the processes, and the economic and legal rationale for pre-commercial procurement (PCP) and for public procurement of innovative solutions (PPI) related to open data. 


When procuring solutions that are still in R&D stage, the PCP can be used to compare the pros and cons of competing solutions. This helps reduce the risk of the most promising innovations with a step-by-step process involving solution design, prototyping, development and first product testing. In other cases, challenges can be addressed by innovative solutions that are nearly or already (at a low level) in the market and which do not require R&D. This is when PPI is most effective. With a forward-looking innovation procurement strategy that uses PCP and PPI in a complementary way, public procurers can help drive innovation.


The guide addresses a number of different approaches to PCP, PPI, and open data innovation procurement. It includes an introduction to open data; explanation of the European framework for Innovation procurement; a guide to Innovation procurement in the UK, France, the Netherlands and Belgium; business case methodology; best practices and use cases; guide to cross-border procurement; and case studies.